It is a terrible cycle and I think that we all suffer from guilt at different times in our lives. For me, this guilt has been exaggerated throughout the course of being a mom and wife, especially since being a mom. We are darned if we do, and darned if we don’t. Really. If I spend the morning busily working to make sure that the house is clean and organized, I feel guilty because I didn’t spend enough time with my kids. If I sit down and just enjoy the day with my kids, I feel guilty when my husband comes home to a dirty house. I feel guilty when I lose patience with my kids. I overcompensate the next time and am too nice for way too long, to the point where I feel guilty for not disciplining them earlier in their behavior. I felt guilty for a long time because I only nursed my babies for the first weeks or months of their lives, for a few reasons, but I wish that I had continued longer. I feel guilty when I don’t spend enough time in prayer for my children. I feel guilty when I get snippy with my husband. I feel guilty when…well, you get the picture. There are moms out there who feel guilty because they have to work. There are moms that feel guilty because they don’t work. Strangers in Wal-Mart can make a mom feel guilty just by asking a pointed question or by giving a judgmental look to the mom with the screaming toddler. I don’t walk around moping in a mound of guilt all day long, but there have been times when I have felt the guilt nagging at my heart and putting me on the edge of despair because I am not that “magazine” mom and wife. Hey, let’s add daughter, sister, friend, etc. to that list!
Our culture tends to portray mothers and wives in a light that pushes us to believe that we should always be doing more. Our roots can’t show, that baby weight should have been gone 6 weeks postpartum, we should be doing yoga at 6am each morning, we should get our children into piano lessons by age 2, join mommy & me dance class, have a perfectly “Pinterest” home, create the cutest Valentine’s Day cards for preschool,… and the list goes on. It’s no wonder that many moms carry around excessive loads of guilt.
I don’t know if you are a mom struggling with “mom guilt” or if you are in a different place in your life. Perhaps you are struggling with guilt over sin, a decision, or expectations on your life. I don’t know your life, but here is what I do know…
Jesus came to remove that guilt from your life.
Yes. He died for your sin. Yes. He died for your guilt.
Do you see? He made the ultimate guilt trip…all of the way up Calvary’s hillside.
There is a song, made popular by the David Crowder Band, called, “How He Loves”…I’m sure that you’ve heard it. There is a line of the bridge that always gets me. He sings,
“And we are His portion and He is our prize,
Drawn to redemption by the grace in His eyes,
If his grace is an ocean, we’re all sinking.
And Heaven meets earth like a unforeseen kiss,
And my heart turns violently inside of my chest,
I don’t have time to maintain these regrets,
When I think about, the way…that he loves us!”
John 3:17 says, “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.”
When we think about the journey that Jesus made for us, we see that, yes, he came for our sin, but he also came for our guilt. When we allow ourselves to be overtaken by guilt, we cannot see clearly to see his great love for us! We cannot swim in His ocean of grace if we are shackled on the shore of guilt and shame. We cannot truly know the freedom offered through Christ, when we allow ourselves to be chained to guilt.
Galatians 5:1 says, “For freedom, Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to the yoke of slavery.”
Our form of slavery is sin and anything attached to it. While not all of our guilt is attached to sin, most of it is. Why do we re-attach ourselves to the sin that Christ has already defeated? Granted, we should have a “broken and contrite” heart (Psalm 51:17) when we sin, but we should act upon that with repentance, not by allowing guilt to linger.
2 Corinthians 7:10 says, “For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret…”
I think that it is just as bad when we allow guilt to linger for something that was not attached to sin in the first place! Not having the cutest home or most original Valentine’s Day card for preschool should not bring on guilt…but it does for many moms. Why do we torture ourselves? While it is not a bad thing to have a cute home or creative Valentine’s Day card, if things get in the way or you just aren’t feelin’ the Pinterest craze, why beat yourself up over something that just isn’t that big of a deal in the long run? You shouldn’t.
Are you loving your family? Great job, mom.
Are you teaching your children God’s truth? Great job, mom.
Are you making sure that your family is fed and clothed? Great job, mom.
When you mess up, and we all do, let’s show our family an example of repentance and move forward. When we feel guilt begin to nag, let’s evaluate where that feeling is coming from. Is it from a magazine? From culture? From people? From God? If it is from any source other than God, then we should quickly evaluate whether or not we are draining ourselves for a purpose or if we would be better off just letting it go. If it is conviction from God, then we should quickly evaluate our hearts and humble ourselves before our Lord.
Let’s take inventory. What are your expectations for yourself? What are they based on? Culture? Popular media? People? Scripture? Whose expectations are you living for? Are you setting yourself up for failure, due to any unrealistic expectations on yourself? Let’s move toward narrowing down our expectations, so that we are not living for anyone or anything but Christ. When we do that, I believe that we can fully experience the freedom that He has so freely provided for us! We can wade past the shore, plunging into his ocean of grace. When we look up and realize that Jesus made the ultimate guilt trip for us, we can clearly see his great love for us and everything else will seem meaningless and gray. Why should we journey on a path that we do not have to travel? Let’s put aside our guilt and remember that the ultimate guilt trip was made nearly 2,000 years ago, so that we could live in freedom.